Monday, February 24, 2014

Digoxin safety and effectiveness: new research findings

Recent thinking concerning digoxin is that when used adjunctively in patients with systolic heart failure it reduces hospitalizations and can increase or have a neutral effect on mortality depending on achieved serum levels. This thinking is challenged by a new study:

Methods and Results—We identified adults with incident systolic HF between 2006 and 2008 within Kaiser Permanente Northern California who had no prior digoxin use. We used multivariable extended Cox regression to examine the association between new digoxin use and risks of death and HF hospitalization, controlling for medical history, laboratory results, medications, HF disease severity, and the propensity for digoxin use. We also conducted analyses stratified by sex and concurrent β-blocker use. Among 2891 newly diagnosed patients with systolic HF, 529 (18%) received digoxin. During a median 2.5 years of follow-up, incident digoxin use was associated with higher rates of death (14.2 versus 11.3 per 100 person-years) and HF hospitalization (28.2 versus 24.4 per 100 person-years). In multivariable analysis, incident digoxin use was associated with higher mortality (hazard ratio, 1.72; 95% confidence interval, 1.25–2.36) but no significant difference in the risk of HF hospitalization (hazard ratio, 1.05; 95% confidence interval, 0.82–1.34).

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